During this period of strategic change for our membership association, ASTC has prioritized expanding the scope and impact of our shared diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity efforts. All members of our staff and board are active in this process, and the following is an update on our journey. I invite you to follow along through our website and these blog posts, and to share with us any feedback and suggestions.—Cristin Dorgelo, President and CEO
During the last few months, ASTC staff members have created the Commitment to Embrace and Prioritize Diversity, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Equity (DAIE). Below, staff member Billie McGrane discusses the process with her colleague Ann Hernandez.
Billie McGrane: Good morning! Long time no-see since our morning meeting! Are you excited to talk about the DAIE commitment statement for the ASTC Blog?
Ann Hernandez: You bet I am! I am excited that we are taking the time to have these conversations and share them with our broader community.
AH: There have been many exciting changes here at ASTC, including bringing on our new President and CEO Cristin Dorgelo and Chief Operating Officer Christofer Nelson. As our new leadership joined us, they asked that we take a look at what work has already been done in the DAIE space and what work still needs to be done. To formalize that assessment Cristin asked the staff to come together to create the DAIE commitment statement.
BM: This is not the first time that ASTC staff have looked at their commitment to diversity . . . I know that recently the ASTC staff concluded an 18-month-long facilitated exploration of cultural competency work—what was that process like?
AH: Over the past year and a half, we, as a staff, have started to look inward and examine what kind of environment we are creating as an office and how it affects the ways that we serve our members. We spent this time on a cultural competency journey by engaging our local community and listening closely to our colleagues. We visited organizations that support immigrants and refugees, talked to panels that identify with the local LGBTQ+ community and homeless community, and examined our own unconscious biases. It was a learning experience for all of us, allowed us to understand each other as colleagues and people, and helped generate ideas for our philosophy and actions toward DAIE. At the end of this process, we realized we were ready to put in writing how our commitment to diversity, accessibility, inclusion, and equity has strengthened.
BM: Didn’t ASTC already have a Diversity and Equity statement?
AH: Yes, ASTC has had several equity and diversity statements through the years, each reflecting the needs of the field at the time and the promise that ASTC was dedicating its time to improve. Since the late 1990s, ASTC has committed to multiple projects and initiatives with our members to prepare professionals who are often underrepresented in science centers for leadership positions, build cultural competence among science center staff and integrate it in the structure of the organizations, and create equal opportunities for youth to participate in STEM. We honor what has come before us and are excited to think a little differently about this statement. Instead of focusing on what our members can do, we are starting with what we as a staff can do. Our goal is to build a strong association staff and then move outward to serve our members.
BM: What was the process like for creating the statement?
AH: ASTC’s Commitment to Embrace and Prioritize Diversity, Accessibility, Inclusion, and Equity was created entirely by the ASTC staff over the course of several weeks. Staff examined past ASTC statements and those from other organizations and created a list of concepts that we wanted to lift up in our new commitment. A small committee was formed to focus on the audience, voice, and outline of the statement. Each committee member drafted one section of the statement and then the group worked to meld them together. The statement went through many drafts and the whole staff provided input. The statement was approved by the ASTC Board of Directors at its June 2018 meeting.
AH: We want this commitment to be ingrained in our culture and organizational practices. As we wrote the statement, many specific ideas came up that we would like to implement in the near future. Our next step is to write out what this actually looks like as part of a strategic plan. We will be visioning the next two years and creating an action plan for staff and policies for the ASTC Board. We might take some twists and turns as we pave this path forward, and we are excited to see where this takes us as a staff and an organization.
BM: Thanks for sitting down with me to talk all things DAIE. Is there anything else you would like our ASTC Blog readers to know?
AH: We promise to keep our members updated as we make another step forward. As always, we welcome members’ feedback (write to firstname.lastname@example.org), and you can check back on our website and blog to hear more.
If you would like to support ASTC’s work in these areas, please consider making a gift to the ASTC Diversity Challenge Fund.